by Keuren Moreno
Our first full day in Arizona was full of exploration, but it started with a bit of confusion. Daylight savings in Arizona is only observed in the Navajo nation and some of our phones moved forward while others didn’t. It made for moments of panic when some thought they had slept in too late. Fortunately, we figured it out.
After some breakfast of bagels and pancakes we all packed in the vans and headed to Mission San Xavier del Bac. This mission is a historic Spanish Catholic mission on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation. The mission’s architecture was complemented by all of the cacti and vendors. A hill with a large cross stood next to the mission. The vendors sold food, stones, and handcrafted jewelry. After exploring the grounds, we gathered at Café Santa Rosa II for lunch. The restaurant was adorned with colorful stools, green plants, natural wood tables and benches, brick walls, and a beautiful wooden roof. This café is also very special because it serves Native American food; we enjoyed things like Indian tacos, popovers, cinnamon tea, and fry bread. It was a lovely lunch filled with laughs.
With our appetites satisfied we started the drive towards Nogales. This was a longer drive and we got to see the Arizona’s ecosystem as we drove through the highways. When we arrived in Nogales the mood in our car shifted. From the distance we could see the long border wall curling its way up hills separating Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora Mexico. Somebody in our car mentioned that it reminded them of the Wall of China. It was surreal to see the stark distinction the wall made. This was further explained by Father Neeley from the Kino Border Initiative.
We met him at Kino’s main offices where he welcomed us and explained to us what their organization does for immigrants and refugees. Later he took us on the short walk from their offices to the border wall. As we were walking we had to stop at a railroad crossing while a train buzzed past us. Ironically, the train was carrying thousands of Ford Focuses from Mexico. It seemed fitting to get to see the hypocrisy of it all. Thousands of people turned away or detained, blamed for so many social ills in our society. Meanwhile American companies ship their goods, made by some of those same populations of people, right through the border. When the train passed, and we arrived at the wall we were struck by the rows of barbed wire, the metal sheets, the fencing, the cameras, and the message behind it all. I left feeling as if every American, on any side of the political spectrum, needed to see this with their own eyes.
At the end of the evening, we headed back to Tucson for dinner. We stopped at a restaurant called The Parish. We sat in a heated patio, enjoyed live-music, ate southern-style food, and conversed with shimmering lights in the background. Overall, it was an amazing day in Arizona.